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To the uninformed, "marketplace realities" was the reason LucasArts gave for cancelling their Sam & Max: Freelance Police adventure game.

Edited by Chyron

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It's a shame that the sudden fame got to Kevin Bruner's head. Conversely, I'm glad that Dan Connors was mentioned as being a decent guy. He always seemed genuinely nice whenever he popped into the forum back before Telltale got huge.

Now that Kevin's out, and the environment there is less hectic and the staff is less creatively stifled, I'm really excited to see their game play changes. I haven't really played a Telltale game in a while, even though I used to be a massive fan. I have Minecraft Season Two, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Batman Season Two just sitting on my Steam account and I really haven't had much motivation to play them. I'm glad they're now given some creative freedom, so hopefully they can pull out of the slump they've gotten themselves into with the repetitive gameplay.

There was a post by AlfredJ in the comments at the International House of Mojo that summed up my thoughts on Telltale too:

Quote

Back in the day, even with their limited budget, it felt that almost every new game would twist the formula to fit the vibe of the world they were presenting - Strong Bad had the goofy collectibles and arcade games, Puzzle Agent went for an entirely different puzzle style, Monkey Island went deep into the season wide story arcs and added inventory combinations, etc. Sometimes big changes, sometimes small, but every game felt unique and had its own creative voice while still fitting in their Telltale style.

Hopefully something good comes out of this. I'd love to enjoy a Telltale game again.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jenni said:

Hopefully something good comes out of this. I'd love to enjoy a Telltale game again.

God, me too. Me tooooo. :x

The Verge article is giving substance to what a lot of us felt and suspected for many years. Maybe a bit of a cheap move by Farokhmanesh to point at just one responsible person at the end, but at the very least she's putting the whole case file into a background of woes that the entire industry suffers from. Telltale, with its episodic game structure and therewith perpetual crunch time, has always been an extended cautionary tale of sorts. At least now we have that in writing.

And, honestly, not just Telltale should take note.

Quote

These conditions almost always hit one group the hardest: developers, or the people who actually make the games. Layoffs are a pervasive fact of life, even at successful studios where developers are often hired en masse to help hit tight deadlines and then fired to cut costs after the game ships or is canceled. With the next deadline, the cycle begins anew.

I e. g. see this kind of company strategy at work at Double Fine just as well (or at least saw it at work during the time the DFA was produced). This is horrifying. It must stop, and that may be particularly difficult in the US game industry.

I must say, I don't really see how something good can come from all of this. Telltale won't change course, won't try something different. I guess for six years now they've been trying to remix the TWD formula into something that clicks with their audience just as well. The company has become increasingly more risk-averse. What kind of 180 can they pull off in this situation?

Wishing them all the best, though of course now none of my heroes still remain there.

They're all gone, each and every one.

 

By the way, I've checked the Telltale forums and there's of course a thread on the same article. However, the contributions to that thread are surprisingly balanced. Something you'd expect from an adult community. I'm impressed.

Edited by Vainamoinen

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1 hour ago, Vainamoinen said:

They're all gone, each and every one.

Mark Darin is still there. He did some amazing design work during Telltale's early years. He's leading the final season of Telltale's The Walking Dead. I doubt that episode 1 and 2 will be much different than what came before, since going by past comments by Telltale's designers, the design document for those episodes are probably locked in now. It would be great if Telltale gave him more leeway for the remaining season though. I'd love to see what Mark Darin could come up with in the universe of The Walking Dead if he had creative freedom to make the game his way.

I doubt they'd give him complete freedom, considering the IP, but hopefully they can give him enough to noticeably leave his mark on the game.

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The need an original IP or something less constricting.  I really feel for their creativity.

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Jenni said:

Mark Darin is still there.

Ooooops my bad. That's actually the only Telltaler I've ever met in person! And, yes, nicest guy in existence. I don't quite remember our chat any more, the only thing I do remember is that eventually I said something casually yet wildly inappropriate about his hands and henceforth was too embarrassed to speak any further.

Oh shoot, now I wish Campo Santo hired him. :|

Edited by Vainamoinen

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I haven't played one of their games since Walking Dead Season Two, which I really enjoyed. I just never got around to Lost Frontier, then started hearing incredibly mixed reactions to it. I'll probably grab it soon, so I can dive into the final season. They kind of pulled me back in by saying it would be the end of Clementine's story. I played the first episode of Borderlands and thought the writing was actually better than the main Borderlands games, but never got around to finishing it.

I just want them to drastically rebuild their engine. Preferably from scratch. Or just license Unreal or Unity. They've been using the same engine for over a decade now. It's showed it's age a long, long time ago.

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3 hours ago, Leroy Octopus said:

I haven't played one of their games since Walking Dead Season Two, which I really enjoyed. I just never got around to Lost Frontier, then started hearing incredibly mixed reactions to it. I'll probably grab it soon, so I can dive into the final season. They kind of pulled me back in by saying it would be the end of Clementine's story. I played the first episode of Borderlands and thought the writing was actually better than the main Borderlands games, but never got around to finishing it.

I just want them to drastically rebuild their engine. Preferably from scratch. Or just license Unreal or Unity. They've been using the same engine for over a decade now. It's showed it's age a long, long time ago.

They're moving to Unity in the near future.

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On 3/21/2018 at 4:05 PM, Jenni said:

Kevin Bruner's head.

 

Good band name.

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12 hours ago, Blind Sniper said:

Campo Santo just got bought out by Valve, so Jake and Sean essentially had a career trajectory of going from Telltale to Valve. Quite impressive!

https://kotaku.com/sources-valve-buys-firewatch-developer-campo-santo-1825445890

I thought it was really impressive going from Telltale to winning their independence as a game developer with the release of just one game. Seeking the coat tails of Valve, you can imagine, doesn't at all seem impressive to me. In fact, it's a huge leap back. And of course, that GOG cooperation is surely nixed. So that's it for In the Valley of the Gods, a Valve game™. I guess I'll just rip up all that unfinished fan art. Damn it, I loved those guys!

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https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/15/17467166/telltale-lawsuit-kevin-bruner

Former CEO and co-founder sues Telltale Games
 

Quote

More than a year after his expulsion as the CEO of Telltale Games, co-founder and former CEO Kevin Bruner is suing the game development company, according to the Marin Independent Journal. The suit, seeking recovery of financial damages, has been described by Telltale as “meritless” and “an apparent means of extracting revenge on a company already under financial strain.” Rather than owing Bruner money, the lawsuit is comprised of “baseless and careless accusations of petty revenge,” says Telltale.

Quote

Bruner alleges that the company was obligated by contract to give informational support as he prepared to sell his holdings in common and preferred stock. He also says that the company cut off communications just as he was preparing to sell those holdings. According to the lawsuit, “the net effect of Bruner’s alleged removal from the board of directors was that Bruner was deprived of relevant insight into the management and financial state of Telltale and the value of its shares.”

Bruner — who took over as CEO in 2015 — has been widely recognized as a controversial figure. The Verge previously spoke to several sources with direct knowledge of the company’s inner workings, and how it was plagued under Bruner’s leadership by constant crunch, toxic management practices, and a culture of fear and stagnation that he cultivated.

According to Telltale, the company “is now working to turn around the decline that it experienced under Plaintiff’s stewardship.” (The Verge reached out to Telltale for comment.)

...yeesh. What a downturn of events.

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Ah, it's the All American Pastime. Suing the shit out of somebody.

This is all very depressing. :|

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I like that last shot by Telltale.  That was good.

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Telltale has been in a downward spiral much further back than 2015.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Klatuu said:

It looks like they'll be getting rid of their classic in-house game engine, the "Telltale Tool", in favor of Unity.

That sounded like a good idea until that last word. Unity eats a lot of RAM and is apparently rather difficult to bring to a sensible performance. They could have put money into their own new tool, they surely have the money for that. But alas.

The "decline" of course refers to plummeting revenue since 2015. The "downward spiral" indeed began earlier,  but not with "The Walking Dead", which was their most successful game. It began with Telltale's treatment of employees as soon as the episodic model started to look like a success. 2008, maybe 2009. Absurd pay, perpetual crunch time, while the company itself raked in more than enough to simply not_do_that. It's exactly the fitting image that Telltale needs to get rid off. And judging from the reports I'm still reading, virtually nothing has changed in that respect since Bruner's demise.

Edited by Vainamoinen

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On 6/27/2018 at 4:51 AM, Vainamoinen said:

That sounded like a good idea until that last word. Unity eats a lot of RAM and is apparently rather difficult to bring to a sensible performance. They could have put money into their own new tool, they surely have the money for that. But alas.

The "decline" of course refers to plummeting revenue since 2015. The "downward spiral" indeed began earlier,  but not with "The Walking Dead", which was their most successful game. It began with Telltale's treatment of employees as soon as the episodic model started to look like a success. 2008, maybe 2009. Absurd pay, perpetual crunch time, while the company itself raked in more than enough to simply not_do_that. It's exactly the fitting image that Telltale needs to get rid off. And judging from the reports I'm still reading, virtually nothing has changed in that respect since Bruner's demise.

...wait, that was a problem even before Walking Dead? The pay I can understand, but even the crunch?

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It looks like it started at the end of 2008.  In December, they were finishing up Strong Bad and by October, they had Wallace & Gromit, Monkey Island, and CSI released.  Crazy, with the staff they had back then.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Blind Sniper said:

...wait, that was a problem even before Walking Dead? The pay I can understand, but even the crunch?

From The Verge article:

Quote

Because of the episodic nature of Telltale’s games, the studio’s development cycle was a constantly turning wheel. As soon as one episode wrapped, it was on to the next one, over and over with no end in sight. “Everything [was] always on fire,” one source with direct knowledge of the company says. “You never [got] a break.” [...] Eventually, the emails from higher-ups encouraging the staff to push through a particularly rough patch began to feel redundant. “This just feels like last month. And the month before that,” said the same source, describing the reaction to the emails. “And the month before that… It was exhausting.”

The episodic structure was the problem. Always has been.

Edited by Vainamoinen

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On 6/29/2018 at 1:19 PM, Vainamoinen said:

From The Verge article:

The episodic structure was the problem. Always has been.

My speculatory assumption was that it only got really bad after the success of Walking Dead Season 1, as that was when Telltale started to heavily push for live-Season revisions as well as more ambitious game scope. Before Walking Dead, Telltale was at least good at punctuality and sticking more closely to their original vision throughout the Season.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Blind Sniper said:

My speculatory assumption was that it only got really bad after the success of Walking Dead Season 1, as that was when Telltale started to heavily push for live-Season revisions as well as more ambitious game scope. Before Walking Dead, Telltale was at least good at punctuality and sticking more closely to their original vision throughout the Season.

That's probably true. What befell the first Walking Dead season after the first episode and likewise the Wolf among Us was an entirely new element of utterly senseless crunch stress.

Then again: We've known some good people who could not bear the "bad" as opposed to the "really bad" already. For some, Telltale's growth pains (that, it seems, were just agony in disguise) set in earlier.

Edited by Vainamoinen

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Even though I didn't care much for their games from BttF onwards, I have fond memories of their earlier games, and it's sad to see them go under, leaving more than 200 people without a job. :(

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Yeah, I just downloaded all my games for security's sake. 

For me, Telltale kinda died around Walking Dead because that's when all the projects I was interested in were forgotten. But I still have a lot of fondness for the company for the games they made beforehand and how cool the old crew was (Will and Jake and such)

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